Instagram Is Testing "Private Likes" On Stories

Sneaky link, meet sneaky like.

A woman in a white hijab likes a friend's Instagram story. Instagram is testing "private likes" on s...
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The Instagram story terrain can be a tricky one. Sure, when it comes to your IRL pals’ stories (especially your close friends’ Close Friends stories), you might take a lot of liberty in swiping up to reply. But what about when that sort-of-friend/acquaintance posts a hilarious take on the “Add Yours” sticker trend? Do you send a laughing emoji from the swipe-up menu, or is that cringe? And what about your love interest’s sharing their very telling Spotify Wrapped, which just so happens to almost completely overlap with your own? Surely you can’t swipe past and miss the opportunity to connect, but the distance between swiping away and boldly taking it to the DMs can feel like a no man’s land.

If you’ve been desperately seeking for a casual happy medium to engage with your favorite Instagram stories, your prayers may be answered with Instagram stories’ new private like feature. If you’re part of a recent test, you may be able to acknowledge an Instagram story with all of the loving support of an Instagram like — and all of the coyness of a low-effort double tap on a grid post. According to TechCrunch, Instagram appears to have started rolling out the feature to users throughout the first week of January.

Much like the swipe-up emoji reactions and option to respond to a story, when someone privately likes an Instagram story, TechCrunch reports that this information will only be shown to the user who posted the story. So, the feature will mostly operate as a new way for users to connect over story content, rather than functioning as a kind of public engagement metric (as with, you know, public likes). Users can, however, see the total number of likes they receive on a story, which may be helpful to content creators who are looking to boost engagement on their stories.

If you don’t have the ability to receive likes on your stories, or like others’ stories, it means that the feature has not yet been rolled out to you. As head of Instagram Adam Mosseri previously described, testing periods for new features are meant to check whether it works properly, whether it’s valuable, and whether it inhibits the functionality of Instagram as a whole. When the test period for Take a Break, Instagram’s screen-time reminder feature, began in November 2021, Mosseri mentioned that the feature would be officially launched in “a month or two.” However, there’s no confirmation yet as to when the private like feature will be publicly rolled out.

Until then, you’ll just have to keep engaging with stories with the tools available to you — whether that means swiping past with a mysterious indifference, embracing your inner millennial by using pre-selected emoji reactions, or entering your Facebook aunt era and responding to every story you see.